I was lucky enough to interview Noel Biderman, owner and founder ofAshleyMadison.com, the ‘online married dating’ site today. I interviewed him for the purposes of my upcoming book “Find Em & Keep Em: A Guide to Attracting The Right Partner” and was totally excited for it.
Before the meeting, friends and a few people asked me, “Why are you interviewing this guy when he’s all about infidelity and you’re book is all about having a great relationship?” I laughed and said a couple different things… “He’ll have a lot of great info on infidelity, and unfaithfulness and ill be able to use that as counter-info for how to prevent it, be aware of it, or catch it.” Another one, “I’m interested! He’s a Super Successful Canadian Business man! And he’s from Toronto!” Another simply, “Why not?”
I ended up having a great conversation with the man, and found out his company is actually part of a ‘6 different dating site umbrella’ (You may have heard of the quite popular Cougar Life and Established Men) called Avid Life Media. It should be noted, Ashley Madison is their #1 brand and the #3 dating site overall in the world with millions and millions of members worldwide. Woah.
Here are some of the highlights of our conversation:
Michael: Why is the state of marriage where it is today?
Noel: We have this societal narrative of how marriage is supposed to be. Its based on this industrial, complex, wonky, old scientific model. Its not like that anymore. It was created to be a financial arrangement, to protect families assets and status. And now is an important time in society, since now and the last few decades its been about love. Its finally actually been about love. What are the consequences of this mix? Divorce and unfaithfulness, en masse.
Michael: Why do people come to AshleyMadison.com?
Noel: There’s been research. The longer a couple is together and the longer they experience cohabitation, they’re less happy. They come to the site to experience some form of happiness again. Promiscuity has been happening since before you or I were born. Its been going on for centuries in different places; nightclubs, massage parlors, strip clubs, cafe’s. We didn’t create anything new.
Michael: What does this say about people?
Noel: We want to be with people inherently. But marriage seems to be about owning things. Marriage these days is about being comfortable with someone and raising kids. However, 40% of kids these days are born outside of marriage. And women still like being pursued, and being sought after even inside of a marriage. And inside of marriage, that is lost.
Michael: Do you think there is a chance of the divorce rate going down?
Noel: It will go down. But not for the reason you might think. It’ll go down due to the smaller amount of people getting married. If we could somehow measure the amount of Relationships that are separated, that number will be huge! These days, technology gives us a lot choice. So if technology could measure the number of separations that occur, we’ll watch that number go through the roof.
Michael: Do you agree that a key to relationship/marriage success is finding the right partner in the first place?
Noel: Thats a part of it. How one selects is whats important. While partner selection is a factor, odds are, the right partner comes down to making the right approach.
Michael: What makes a great marriage great?
Noel: For me, depth of partnership. You know. When I told my wife, “I want to start an online infidelity business” and she said okay, that was huge. I also think, the ability to evolve. Its about teamwork, and knowing there will be differences for you and them too. And definitely, keeping it interesting.
I’m clear he’s a brilliant individual. In fact, one of the first impressions I had when I sat in his (really nice looking office that had a brilliant view of a sunny downtown Toronto-cliche for ME to say, but I had to) comfy leather guest chair, was “Hey, in a way, he reminds me of Steve Jobs! Jeans, cool, calm, collect, and a wise demeanor.”
From a Business perspective, I know that business is all about providing a solution for a need. Well he saw the need, the solution and brought the two together. Like he said, “People are already doing it and have been for years. We’ve now just given them the opportunity in a robust and quick manner. We saw the market, and decided to create and excel in it.”
Brilliant! No matter what, you gotta cheer for Canadian businesses, especially the super successful ones, like Noel Biderman and Avid Life Media.
I had a lot of fun in the meeting, and you can watch his recent AWESOME TED talk @ TEDx Waterloo (to get your own sense of what I mean about the guy) here:
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